Thursday, July 21, 2011

Because of You

Today I found a quote by a man named Greg Gutfield in which he says, "I became a Conservative by being around Liberals. I became a Libertarian by being around Conservatives." As far as politics go, which I rarely discuss openly in relation of religion unless they are intricately connected in some way, I'd say I relate very well to what Gutfield said. No matter where you go, and what group of people and their beliefs there are, there always seem to be hypocrites. There are people who preach the importance of a certain way to believe and that it is the best, if not the only real way to live a successful life, yet when it comes time to live by the same standard they fail miserably, not in the sense that they just made a mistake here and there, it happens, but that they never really care to live the lifestyle they promote, it's simply an act, simply an image for those looking towards them. I like this quote, and it does a great job of reminding me of how important it is for me not only teach the ways of Christ, but even more important for me to live them.

Shortly after reading this quote, I was studying over Romans 2 and came across this passage:

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. 

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth--you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Romans 2:14-24)

Paul in writing to the Romans reminded them that though the Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law (though I know this is debated back and forth, I don't view it as a salvation issue), they were still able to be saved. They were still under some form of law. We don't have all of the details of it, but they were accountable to God for what they did. Paul then uses this, with a bit of a sarcastic tone, notes the way the Jews thought of themselves. They saw themselves has having the light of truth, as being instructors of the foolish, and teaching the children, yet Paul goes on to note that the Jews didn't actually practice what they were preaching. They were hypocrites through and through. They didn't just stumble occasionally, this was their normal way of thinking and doing.

Paul reaches the climax of his argument by coming down hard on the Jews by pointing out that the reason the Gentiles blaspheme the name of God is not because of their hard hearts or because they inherently hated God, but simply because the attitude and actions of the Jews gave them no reason to want to follow God or believe He was necessary.

Paul would continue on to explain to the Jews that circumcision, the biggest act they based their covenant faithfulness on, means nothing if you ignore the rest of the law. What good does it do for me to get pulled over for doing 100 in a 35 only to tell the cop, "Well Officer, at least I've never killed one," as if that justifies my other actions. Many Christians still do the same today. We look back to our baptism and think, "Well I've been saved," and formulate this argument in our head that our baptism allows us to do as we please.

This really made me consider so much of what I see around me. The biggest reason people claim for not wanting to acknowledge God and His Word is not because they believe in evolution, not because of natural disasters or social problems, not even because their is suffering in this world. The biggest reason people give for their negative attitude towards the God of the Bible is because of His followers. Too often we end up holding on to the same attitude as the Jews. We come out of the waters of baptism as a new creature, ready to serve, but time settles in and we somehow get the notion that we are saved by Christian Social Security rather than by the grace of God, the blood of Christ and our obedient faith. We've somehow formulated the idea that if we put enough years of pretty good service into our Christian life, that eventually we can retire and draw from our past work to remain saved. Quite often we stand back and question why someone doesn't want to be a Christian. The first question that should pop into my mind should be, "Do they blaspheme the name of God because of me?"

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